Guest post: Revamp your supply chain and save money.

The Supply Chain Sustainability School is online and easy to join, says CEO and guest writer Robin Mellon.

©Brendan Read Leading organisations are always looking for ways to develop smarter, more efficient approaches to sustainability, their business and their clients’ supply chains, and the Supply Chain Sustainability School is delighted to be working alongside such an organisation – Edge Environment.

Who are we?

The Supply Chain Sustainability School is an Australian, not-for-profit initiative, established in 2015 to help small and medium-sized businesses involved in construction, property and infrastructure, assess and improve their sustainability knowledge. The school is passionate about providing organisations with the skills to work smarter, collaborate cleverly, protect the environment, save money and, ultimately, do better business. Better practices will help us manage our already-depleted resources so they’ll last a bit longer, stimulate biodiversity and protect Australia’s amazing natural beauty.

It’s free to sign up to the school and access its wealth of resources and services, including e-learning modules, documents, references, useful links, videos, forums and face-to-face supplier events that will support and empower each business, and raise awareness across the entire supply chain. Since Edge specialises in helping companies measure, understand and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products, services and operations, our collaboration is a perfect fit.

Having participated in the early inception of the School, Edge Environment and the Supply Chain Sustainability School are currently progressing talks on an initiative to improve the transparency of information on products and materials. Our organisations are able to support each other with information on the area of supply chain sustainability.

So, what’s a supply chain?

Most of us have heard the phrase “supply chain”, but what does it mean? Well, almost everything in our lives – from the coffees we drink and smartphones we use every day; from the first meal we eat in the morning through to the bed we sleep in at night – has a supply chain. Quite simply, it covers the sequence of processes that it takes to get raw materials to a manufacturer, then to a distributor, then to you, the customer.

Every project or product on which an organisation works has a supply chain involving people and businesses, from the supplier’s supplier to the customer’s customer, and even on to recycling or reuse. These supply chains exist regardless of whether the subject is a desk, a building, a community or a major piece of infrastructure.

The challenge for many businesses is that often each stage of the supply chain has a different priority – one may be focused on sourcing materials; one on efficiency; one on quality; one on price; and another on speed. You need a basic level of sustainability knowledge and an understanding of how all parts could be working to achieve similar objectives, to improve your supply chain.

What is sustainability?

So the act of living sustainably encourages us to be aware of the existence and impacts of various supply chains within our lives; not just personally, but also professionally across products, systems, projects and businesses.

Top reasons to check out the SCSS:

  1. It’s free to join.
  2. It’s a valuable resource that businesses can use to consider more efficient practices that are beneficial for the environment and our community.
  3. It can help you identify areas where using less materials to achieve the same result can make your business more competitive.
  4. It can help your business recognise that the long-term economic benefits of implementing sustainable practices will far outweigh any short-term costs.
  5. It allows organisations to integrate more sustainable practices in a planned and measured way.
  6. Joining shows your business’ initiative to act sustainably and aligns your organisation with the objectives of industry leaders, such as Edge Environment.
  7. An international standard for Sustainable Procurement, ISO20400, has been three years in development, involved more than 40 countries and influential international bodies such as UNEP, ITUC and OECD, and is due for publication in early 2017. It is a guidance standard, so organisations cannot be certified alongside it, but you can talk to organisations like Edge Environment about an independent evaluation, report and recommendations.

Finally, taking advantage of the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s wealth of resources will demonstrate to the public that your business is aware of the challenges our planet faces; will help protect and sustain the community in which you operate, and your market share; will give you a clever and competitive ‘point of difference’; and truly make the world a better place.

How can you get involved?

It’s never too late to start thinking, living and working sustainably, and if you’re passionate about being smarter about your work processes, visit us at supplychainschool.org.au and enter your details and those of your organisation.

You can complete a free and confidential self-assessment to identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll then be provided with a tailored action plan to help grow your knowledge and shift behaviours in areas of your supply chain and therefore your wider industry sector.

You’ll be able to track your progress, receive regular newsletters, complete follow-up self-assessments, re-assess your action plan, provide feedback to the school on new topics you want to learn about, and attend free events run by the school and its partners.

We’re excited about supporting each organisation’s pathway of continuous improvement in sustainability, so start your journey today at supplychainschool.org.au

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